Consumers and businesses buy everything online – from furniture and electronics to toilet paper and fresh groceries. There is hardly anything you can’t buy online. Digital shoppers account for an amazing 90% of Internet users and the National Retail Federation estimates 8-12% growth in US e-commerce in 2017. According to market researcher eMarketer, e-Commerce sales will grow to $692 billion by 2020, up from $389 billion last year. Whatever the numbers turn out to be, the consensus is that growth will be strong and fast, which means that shippers and logistics providers need to be ready to handle the seismic shift from brick and mortar to online retail.
Online shopping has penetrated our society so much so that Amazon created the Amazon Dash button, which allows consumers to instantly reorder many household products with the push of a button synced to their Amazon shopping cart. Supply chain technology vendors have long envisioned a world where product supply chains are so synchronized from raw materials to retail shelves that supply would automatically replenish to meet demand as items were sold in retail outlets. Amazon Dash is the first implementation of this vision at the consumer household level.
But what does this mean for the major players in the logistics industry, such as shippers, retailers, carriers and freight agents? There is no question that as online ordering becomes mainstream, the impact on the supply chain is profound. Manufacturers, retailers, freight brokers and carriers all have the potential to significantly benefit from the uptake in online ordering, but not without transforming how they do business.
e-Commerce and the success of technologies such as Amazon Dash require a whole new level of visibility, responsiveness and agility across the entire supply chain. Manufacturers and other shippers need to have complete confidence that every single participant along the supply chain can keep up with the increased pace of online shopping – from raw material fulfillment to distribution to rapid transport to the end customer. With retail and manufacturing sales growing at such a rapid pace, shippers, retailers, carriers and freight agents need to ensure the right people, processes, and technologies are in place to efficiently handle the increased volume of orders at the quick pace that is now expected.
Shippers and retailers need to trust that their freight brokers, freight agents and carriers are equipped to meet the increased demand and pace that comes with e-commerce growth. One area that significantly impacts the entire supply is transportation and freight management. Transportation of supplies, work-in-process, finished goods and direct-to-consumer deliveries all have the potential to be a bottleneck in the process.
To provide the level of transparency that customers demand, shippers, freight agents and carriers need the right technology, back-office support and data in place – and need to create strong working relationships with each other.
If a shipper is managing their own freight, they should be able to view in real-time the exact location and status of the each shipment. If a shipper is working with a freight agent, freight agents should be able to provide real-time information on every order using live dashboards and analytics.
Visibility is power. It gives shippers, freight agents and carriers greater control in communicating with their clients and making real-time decisions and adjustments in transportation to ensure goods are delivered on-time. Advancements in freight management technology deliver this visibility. So when unexpected surprises pop up and shipments need to be rerouted or expedited, only those empowered with the right freight management technology platform can guarantee the best rates and transit times with the confidence and consistency needed to win shipper loyalty.
Whether you’re a shipper, freight agent or carrier, are you truly prepared for the rapid e-commerce growth that’s happening now and will continue to skyrocket over the next few years? And can your current freight management infrastructure deliver the visibility, agility and control you need to be successful?